AZTEC — Heavy rains and flooding brought an unfortunate end to the summer racing season at Aztec Speedway.
After rain canceled last weekend's races, race track operators had no choice but to call an end to the season and declare points champions. Because of the International Motor Contest Association's national and regional points system, the races needed to be made up by Sept. 28,. But two other big events over the next two weekends presented scheduling conflicts, and many drivers and Aztec Speedway staff had previously committed to the other races.
"It is definitely unfortunate," said Aztec Speedway Manager Mike Tenski. "We want all of our champions to be decided on the race track, instead of how it was. The rain didn't help matters much for us. We would like for a little more interesting finish to the season, but it didn't work out that way."
Several drivers had already established themselves as heavy favorites to come out on top in the points standings, and the cancellations had little effect on the outcomes, Tenski said.
"That made it a little easier to say the season was done. The closest points races were about 15 or 16 points of separation between first and second place. The way the points structure is, we would have to have full 24-car fields and have one guy win and another guy not even start the race to have much change in the points," Tenski said. "It was pretty cut and dry who would be the champion."
Tenski was happy with the season overall, and said it was one of the best years in recent memory.
"This season brought some of the best racing I have ever seen at any track. Regardless of classification, we had three-wide and four-wide racing every weekend," he said. "The competition level was stepped up this year, and the driving ability of these guys was way up. Our car count was almost double what other neighboring tracks had."
Farmington's Regan Tafoya won the IMCA Modified division, finishing 26 points ahead of Farmington's Zach Hamilton. Farmington's Dereck Rhoden was the Rookie of the Year in the division after placing sixth.
"Dereck was in his first year driving the modifieds, and he won his share of heats and main events. That kid was on fire this year and could do no wrong," Tenski said.
Bloomfield's Frankie Hendershot won the IMCA Stock Car division, which Tenski said was the classification with the deepest field in 2013. The stock car Rookie of the Year was Aztec's Skyler Heath, who finished eighth in points.
"It is a wonderful feeling," Hendershot said of winning the title. "It is five years in the making. My first two years, I didn't have a shot, but the last three years ,it has been a tie or I was down by one or something. It is an awesome feeling to finally win."
In IMCA Southern SportMod, Farmington's Julie Boettler was crowned champion after finishing 38 points ahead of Aztec's Brian Carey. Darell Cordary, of Hesperus, Colo., was named the SportMod Rookie of the Year.
"It was a lot of hard work. This is the first championship I have ever won in Aztec, so it is pretty awesome," Boettler said. "This is my 14th year racing, and this was the most wins I have ever had. I won six times, and I usually max out at two wins. It was a total team effort with my dad and boyfriend, Jason Keeler, constantly working on the car. I had a few did not finishes through the year, but the six wins and a bunch of top-three finishes helped counteract those bad finishes."
Aztec's Randy Dorsett drove his No. 13 car to a championship in the Hobby Stock division. He finished 21 points ahead of Aztec's Freddie Brooks to win the title. Brooks was named the Rookie of the Year.
"We had a phenomenal season. Very little went wrong, and we won seven out of our 11 races," said Dorsett, who was also the Hobby Stock champ in 2010. "This year was a lot easier than 2010. We only ran seven or eight races in 2010, and it was relatively difficult to stay out front with those few races. This year, we didn't have any problems and things floated our way."
Taking the Sport Compact points championship was Aztec's Tom Dutton, who finished 53 points ahead of Bloomfield's Michael Cody. The Rookie of the Year was Farmington's Josh Smith.
"Dutton is going to SportMods next year, and you can see why. The kid drives the wheels off of his car and will be a contender in any division from here on out," Tenski said.
Several drivers will head to Texas for a big money race this weekend before the Wittens Warrior Race Sept. 27 to 28 in Grants. The next race at Aztec Speedway will be the third annual benefit for cancer race on Oct. 5.John Livingston can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 505-564-4648. Follow him on Twitter @jlivi2.